Star Wars has been one of the biggest parts of pop culture since it first saw the light of day over four decades ago. It’s a franchise that’s consistently growing and evolving with several sequels and prequels, TV series, comic books, novels, and more. It was only a matter of time until there was an anime based in the vast Star Wars universe. Now, there is! Star Wars Visions is an anthology anime series that released on Disney+ and tells nine different original stories set in the galaxy far far away. Is it exciting as it sounds, or is it worth skipping? Let’s take a closer look at every story and lightsaber duel to find out.
Each episode of the series was animated by a different Japanese animation studio. This leads to a variety of aesthetics and styles in which we haven’t seen Star Wars use before, and they’re all great. Every style works perfectly for the story of that particular episode. Plus, they’re all extremely pleasing to see in action. It leads to fun character designs and interesting tonal shifts that you may not expect to see in Star Wars.
Just about every episode of the series features insanely entertaining action sequences. Imagine the martial arts choreography of the prequel trilogy on steroids. The use of animation was absolutely taken advantage of, as it allowed the creators of each story to pull off some shockingly fun and suspenseful lightsaber duels, force powers, and ship chases that we wouldn’t otherwise see in live action. What adds even more entertainment to each fight is the creative lightsaber designs. If you thought Darth Maul’s saber was cool, wait until you see the umbrella lightsaber in the episode “The Duel.”
Where this anthology of stories are separate from each other and don’t connect to the main Star Wars series, the creators were able to introduce some of the most brilliant ideas seen in the franchise. Each of which expands on what we know about the series in very creative ways. For instance, lightsabers changing colors depending on its wielder’s personality. Not only is it an intriguing visual, but it leads to one of the best twists in Visions. There are ideas like that throughout that would be welcome additions to the Star Wars canon.
Something else that’s shown here that’s not really covered elsewhere in the Star Wars universe is that people have regular lives and hobbies that don’t have anything to do with the battle between good and evil. The second episode, “Tatooine Rhapsody,” focuses on a band that just enjoys playing awesome rock music (which is yet another fun addition to the franchise). Sure, the lead singer has a broken lightsaber and there’s a conflict with Jabba the Hutt, but at its core, it showcases characters with everyday lives. They aren’t heroes or villains. Seeing things like this genuinely adds some realism and relatability to one of the biggest science fiction worlds in fiction.
The voice acting throughout the series is outstanding. Each performance brings the characters and these stories to life just as much as the impressive animation. Even the celebrity voice actors, like Neil Patrick Harris, George Takei, Alison Brie, and Joseph Grodon-Levitt, give incredible performances unlike some other celebrities who don’t put effort into their animated roles.
All nine episodes feel like pilots for a full series that we will likely never see. They all feel more like set-up (albeit entertaining set-up) for continuations of that story rather than feeling like good standalone stories. It’s a little frustrating to find one of the stories that you like a lot only to have it not reach a satisfying conclusion. We’re left begging Disney for a full series of these stories, but we’re left with disappointment.
On one hand, the stories not being canon to the larger Star Wars universe allows for much more creativity. On the other, it does lead to the audience wondering why we should care about any of it. They’re certainly fun stories, but where they don’t show us where the stories go later on and don’t affect any other story we’re familiar with, do they truly matter?
Many moviegoers were upset that Leia survived being in outer space for a few seconds in The Last Jedi even though she would be able to use the force to pull her back to safety. Those people will have a lot to be upset about with the third episode “The Twins,” which features characters having full conversations in outer space with no helmets or oxygen. I’m personally willing to buy a force-user being able to pull themselves to safety, but just sort of hanging out outside of their ship and talking to each other without being able to breathe is an extreme stretch.
One or two of the episodes are a little on the dull side. This is rather unfortunate since there are only nine stories in the series. If a couple of them are boring, it’s quite a lot of the show.
Star Wars Visions is far from the strongest installment in the franchise, as it mostly just feels like the beginnings of nine different non-canon stories, but it is undoubtedly entertaining. It’s filled with creative ideas, exciting action, and various animation styles that are all gorgeous. Where it’s short, it’s an easy and accessible watch. It’s definitely a fun time for existing Star Wars fans and newcomers alike, just don’t get too invested in any of the stories or you’ll be left hoping to see more that will never come.